Israeli Arabs Decry Alleged Attempts to Silence them

Published July 4th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Israeli Arab leaders have sharply criticized what they have described as attempts by right-wing elements and Jewish extremists to curb their freedom of expression, reported the Jerusalem Post newspaper.  

Mohammed Zeidan, head of the monitoring committee of the Israeli Arab leadership called on Monday Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak to intervene in the matter.  

Zeidan said there had recently been a series of verbal attacks on Arab MKs because of their public stance in support of Hizbollah and the Palestinians, said the paper.  

"Some Arab MKs have received threats because of the positions they have taken on various issues," said Zeidan, who also chairs the forum of Arab Council Heads.  

"In general, however, there is a noticeable trend to try and stifle the Israeli Arab community and its leadership. We denounce this phenomenon which is an attempt to take away our legitimate right to freedom of expression and which contradicts the basis of democracy."  

Zeidan cited the decision by Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein to order a police inquiry into a pro-Hizbollah rally in Umm el-Fahm last month where MK Azmi Bishara (National Democratic Alliance) spoke, as an example of the alleged attempts to curb the freedom of speech and expression of Arab leaders, the paper added.  

Bishara is to be investigated for comments he made at the rally in support of Hizbollah and its fight to liberate Lebanese land from Israeli occupation. MK Limor Livnat from the Likud party claimed at the time that Bishara's comments were tantamount to incitement and constituted a breach of trust.  

The issue was discussed at a recent meeting of the Arab leadership's monitoring committee, composed of MKs, council heads and other prominent figures, said the Jerusalem Post - Albawaba.com 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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